Building Bridges

Thanks to John R. Hall on his series about contractor/utility relationships [“Striving for Synergy,” July 23; “Utilities See Contractors as Allies,” July 30; “Contractors and Utilities Foster Cooperative Spirit,” August 6]. Our industry has changed and we must build new bridges from con-tractors to utilities to consolidators and back to contractors in order for us to move forward.

Our industry must embrace doing business in the 21st century and accept the new partnerships that will come along with this century.

We cannot hold onto the past, dig our heels in, and refuse to change. Those that do will be left behind. Together we can accomplish our goals.

And thanks to The News for its support of the ACCA.

Larry Taylor AirRite Air Conditioning Co., Inc. President, Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA)

The Customer Is the Focus

On behalf of America’s electric utility companies, we couldn’t agree more with the opinions John R. Hall expressed in his column, “Put Aside the Apprehension and Deal With the Utilities,” in the August 6 issue ofThe News.

Clearly, it is all about the customer. How to best serve the customer should be the focus. We believe that if we look for opportunities to work together, we’ll find them. Hall said it best, the synergies between electric utilities and contractors spell more customers for each, and more customers will mean more work and hopefully, more profitability for both.

Keith E. Voight Manager, Publicity & Promotion Services Edison Electric Institute Washington, DC

There’s No Pleasing Some People

I am at a loss. I work very hard to “do the right thing” to make the best place I can to work — “light” atmosphere, good wages, bonus pay, commissions, time off, and profit sharing, as well as the regular perks of health, dental, and vision insurance, and all the additional training technicians will take. Still, I have people wanting to change fields.

One of my key people I have trained for several years is leaving for a factory maintenance job for less of the above — chiefly less wages, no vehicle, no cell phone, and such. He said it is because he wants to get away from griping customers, attics, crawl spaces, and on-call responsibilities.

The “Business Brains” say to offer more for the customer: extended hours, emergency service, discounts, and the like. After 26 years in the field, I can attest to the fact that a large part of the customers’ “problems” have nothing to do with us, but they make it out to be our problem. That tends to wear on techs.

Three weeks ago, another of my techs left for a maintenance job. His replacement opted for a commercial union job three days before he was to start. My “key” guy gave me two weeks’ notice — three days later. All three said they wouldn’t leave for another job except the one they were leaving for. Go figure. All wanted to get away from the customers.

So to say I need techs would be an understatement. What’s the solution?

Brian Nalley Northside Heating & Cooling Benton, AR (A News’ 2001 “Best Contractor to Work For” Winner)

Man’s Best Friend

I thought Mark Skaer’s column about his beloved pet was great [“Me and You and a Dog Named Pee-Wee,” July 30]. I lost a dog this past year and many of the items he mentioned reinforced what I had learned.

I don’t think those words are corny and they are definitely good advice for everyone, not just contractors. Too many people stress more and love less. It is far better for you and those around you when you “act like a dog” — except for the bathroom part, of course!

Heather James John Zink Gordon-Piatt Winfield, KS

Publication date: 08/27/2001